Imagine that it is early morning and you are trying to get your 5 year-old out the door. As she puts her socks on she suddenly cries out, “These are too itchy! I don’t like these socks.” Or maybe your son cries out, “This tag is poking me.”
How do you respond either in your mind or aloud? Let’s look at common responses.
- Why is she getting upset now? We have to get going.
- The socks were fine yesterday. They shouldn’t bother her today.
- Why does he have to make such a big deal about a little tag?
- Why can’t he be normal like other kids?
These inner or outer comments are a problem because they are critical of your child and you probably don’t feel good about yourself as a result. This judgmental approach also makes it difficult to effectively help your child through feeling stuck to feeling happy and cooperative.
When we are at our best, rested and patient, we can be more sympathetic to their inner turmoil. But when we are exhausted with time constraints, then the understanding and empathy often goes out the window. Instead of letting your reaction be determined by your emotional state, try repeating this inner mantra to yourself. “I see that my child is feeling stuck. How can I help him/her through this difficult time?”
Write these words on a postcard and have it handy to refer to. Try repeating them many times when you are alone so it starts to become second nature. Create your own words such as “How can I be my child’s ally? How can I help my stuck child get through this difficult time? How can I help her rather than make it all about what I want? “
Here are words you could say that will probably help your child work through the upset feelings. These words are playful and can even let your child feel that s/he has the power to change her emotional reactions.
Those darn socks.
They are bothering you today and they didn’t yesterday.
I wonder what got into them.
Maybe you could tell those socks to stop tickling/ pinching/ scratching you.
What do you think?
Would they listen to you? Did your socks listen to you?
Is that tag tickling your back?
Does that tag want to play?
Mr. Tag, I don’t want to play today.
These are just examples. Play around with the concept of being your child’s guide to getting back on track. You’ll be amazed how playful and creative both of you will become when you shift from being judgmental to being supportive.
©2013 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 24 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.